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  1. Abstract

    The phylaNitrospirotaandNitrospinotahave received significant research attention due to their unique nitrogen metabolisms important to biogeochemical and industrial processes. These phyla are common inhabitants of marine and terrestrial subsurface environments and contain members capable of diverse physiologies in addition to nitrite oxidation and complete ammonia oxidation. Here, we use phylogenomics and gene-based analysis with ancestral state reconstruction and gene-tree–species-tree reconciliation methods to investigate the life histories of these two phyla. We find that basal clades of both phyla primarily inhabit marine and terrestrial subsurface environments. The genomes of basal clades in both phyla appear smaller and more densely coded than the later-branching clades. The extant basal clades of both phyla share many traits inferred to be present in their respective common ancestors, including hydrogen, one-carbon, and sulfur-based metabolisms. Later-branching groups, namely the more frequently studied classesNitrospiriaandNitrospinia, are both characterized by genome expansions driven by either de novo origination or laterally transferred genes that encode functions expanding their metabolic repertoire. These expansions include gene clusters that perform the unique nitrogen metabolisms that both phyla are most well known for. Our analyses support replicated evolutionary histories of these two bacterial phyla, with modern subsurface environments representing a genomic repository for the coding potential of ancestral metabolic traits.

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  2. Abstract

    Candidate bacterial phylum Omnitrophota has not been isolated and is poorly understood. We analysed 72 newly sequenced and 349 existing Omnitrophota genomes representing 6 classes and 276 species, along with Earth Microbiome Project data to evaluate habitat, metabolic traits and lifestyles. We applied fluorescence-activated cell sorting and differential size filtration, and showed that most Omnitrophota are ultra-small (~0.2 μm) cells that are found in water, sediments and soils. Omnitrophota genomes in 6 classes are reduced, but maintain major biosynthetic and energy conservation pathways, including acetogenesis (with or without the Wood-Ljungdahl pathway) and diverse respirations. At least 64% of Omnitrophota genomes encode gene clusters typical of bacterial symbionts, suggesting host-associated lifestyles. We repurposed quantitative stable-isotope probing data from soils dominated by andesite, basalt or granite weathering and identified 3 families with high isotope uptake consistent with obligate bacterial predators. We propose that most Omnitrophota inhabit various ecosystems as predators or parasites.

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  3. Abstract Background

    The Spacecraft Assembly Facility (SAF) at the NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory is the primary cleanroom facility used in the construction of some of the planetary protection (PP)-sensitive missions developed by NASA, including the Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover that launched in July 2020. SAF floor samples (n=98) were collected, over a 6-month period in 2016 prior to the construction of the Mars rover subsystems, to better understand the temporal and spatial distribution of bacterial populations (total, viable, cultivable, and spore) in this unique cleanroom.


    Cleanroom samples were examined for total (living and dead) and viable (living only) microbial populations using molecular approaches and cultured isolates employing the traditional NASA standard spore assay (NSA), which predominantly isolated spores. The 130 NSA isolates were represented by 16 bacterial genera, of which 97% were identified as spore-formers via Sanger sequencing. The most spatially abundant isolate wasBacillus subtilis, and the most temporally abundant spore-former wasVirgibacillus panthothenticus. The 16S rRNA gene-targeted amplicon sequencing detected 51 additional genera not found in the NSA method. The amplicon sequencing of the samples treated with propidium monoazide (PMA), which would differentiate between viable and dead organisms, revealed a total of 54 genera: 46 viable non-spore forming genera and 8 viable spore forming genera in these samples. The microbial diversity generated by the amplicon sequencing corresponded to ~86% non-spore-formers and ~14% spore-formers. The most common spatially distributed genera wereSphinigobium,Geobacillus, andBacilluswhereas temporally distributed common genera wereAcinetobacter,Geobacilllus, andBacillus. Single-cell genomics detected 6 genera in the sample analyzed, with the most prominent beingAcinetobacter.


    This study clearly established that detecting spores via NSA does not provide a complete assessment for the cleanliness of spacecraft-associated environments since it failed to detect several PP-relevant genera that were only recovered via molecular methods. This highlights the importance of a methodological paradigm shift to appropriately monitor bioburden in cleanrooms for not only the aeronautical industry but also for pharmaceutical, medical industries, etc., and the need to employ molecular sequencing to complement traditional culture-based assays.

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  4. Abstract

    Sulfate-reducing bacteriaCandidatusDesulforudis audaxviator (CDA) were originally discovered in deep fracture fluids accessed via South African gold mines and have since been found in geographically widespread deep subsurface locations. In order to constrain models for subsurface microbial evolution, we compared CDA genomes from Africa, North America and Eurasia using single cell genomics. Unexpectedly, 126 partial single amplified genomes from the three continents, a complete genome from of an isolate from Eurasia, and metagenome-assembled genomes from Africa and Eurasia shared >99.2% average nucleotide identity, low frequency of SNP’s, and near-perfectly conserved prophages and CRISPRs. Our analyses reject sample cross-contamination, recent natural dispersal, and unusually strong purifying selection as likely explanations for these unexpected results. We therefore conclude that the analyzed CDA populations underwent only minimal evolution since their physical separation, potentially as far back as the breakup of Pangea between 165 and 55 Ma ago. High-fidelity DNA replication and repair mechanisms are the most plausible explanation for the highly conserved genome of CDA. CDA presents a stark contrast to the current model organisms in microbial evolutionary studies, which often develop adaptive traits over far shorter periods of time.

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  5. Abstract

    Our current knowledge of host–virus interactions in biofilms is limited to computational predictions based on laboratory experiments with a small number of cultured bacteria. However, natural biofilms are diverse and chiefly composed of uncultured bacteria and archaea with no viral infection patterns and lifestyle predictions described to date. Herein, we predict the first DNA sequence-based host–virus interactions in a natural biofilm. Using single-cell genomics and metagenomics applied to a hot spring mat of the Cone Pool in Mono County, California, we provide insights into virus–host range, lifestyle and distribution across different mat layers. Thirty-four out of 130 single cells contained at least one viral contig (26%), which, together with the metagenome-assembled genomes, resulted in detection of 59 viruses linked to 34 host species. Analysis of single-cell amplification kinetics revealed a lack of active viral replication on the single-cell level. These findings were further supported by mapping metagenomic reads from different mat layers to the obtained host–virus pairs, which indicated a low copy number of viral genomes compared to their hosts. Lastly, the metagenomic data revealed high layer specificity of viruses, suggesting limited diffusion to other mat layers. Taken together, these observations indicate that in low mobility environments with high microbial abundance, lysogeny is the predominant viral lifestyle, in line with the previously proposed “Piggyback-the-Winner” theory.

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  6. Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2024
  7. Abstract The ocean–atmosphere exchange of CO 2 largely depends on the balance between marine microbial photosynthesis and respiration. Despite vast taxonomic and metabolic diversity among marine planktonic bacteria and archaea (prokaryoplankton) 1–3 , their respiration usually is measured in bulk and treated as a ‘black box’ in global biogeochemical models 4 ; this limits the mechanistic understanding of the global carbon cycle. Here, using a technology for integrated phenotype analyses and genomic sequencing of individual microbial cells, we show that cell-specific respiration rates differ by more than 1,000× among prokaryoplankton genera. The majority of respiration was found to be performed by minority members of prokaryoplankton (including the Roseobacter cluster), whereas cells of the most prevalent lineages (including Pelagibacter and SAR86) had extremely low respiration rates. The decoupling of respiration rates from abundance among lineages, elevated counts of proteorhodopsin transcripts in Pelagibacter and SAR86 cells and elevated respiration of SAR86 at night indicate that proteorhodopsin-based phototrophy 3,5–7 probably constitutes an important source of energy to prokaryoplankton and may increase growth efficiency. These findings suggest that the dependence of prokaryoplankton on respiration and remineralization of phytoplankton-derived organic carbon into CO 2 for its energy demands and growth may be lower than commonly assumed and variable among lineages. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 22, 2023
  8. Abstract With advances in DNA sequencing and miniaturized molecular biology workflows, rapid and affordable sequencing of single-cell genomes has become a reality. Compared to 16S rRNA gene surveys and shotgun metagenomics, large-scale application of single-cell genomics to whole microbial communities provides an integrated snapshot of community composition and function, directly links mobile elements to their hosts, and enables analysis of population heterogeneity of the dominant community members. To that end, we sequenced nearly 500 single-cell genomes from a low diversity hot spring sediment sample from Dewar Creek, British Columbia, and compared this approach to 16S rRNA gene amplicon and shotgun metagenomics applied to the same sample. We found that the broad taxonomic profiles were similar across the three sequencing approaches, though several lineages were missing from the 16S rRNA gene amplicon dataset, likely the result of primer mismatches. At the functional level, we detected a large array of mobile genetic elements present in the single-cell genomes but absent from the corresponding same species metagenome-assembled genomes. Moreover, we performed a single-cell population genomic analysis of the three most abundant community members, revealing differences in population structure based on mutation and recombination profiles. While the average pairwise nucleotide identities were similar across the dominant species-level lineages, we observed differences in the extent of recombination between these dominant populations. Most intriguingly, the creek’s Hydrogenobacter sp . population appeared to be so recombinogenic that it more closely resembled a sexual species than a clonally evolving microbe. Together, this work demonstrates that a randomized single-cell approach can be useful for the exploration of previously uncultivated microbes from community composition to population structure. 
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  9. Kuo, Chih-Horng (Ed.)
    Laboratory mice are widely studied as models of mammalian biology, including the microbiota. However, much of the taxonomic and functional diversity of the mouse gut microbiome is missed in current metagenomic studies, because genome databases have not achieved a balanced representation of the diverse members of this ecosystem. Towards solving this problem, we used flow cytometry and low-coverage sequencing to capture the genomes of 764 single cells from the stool of three laboratory mice. From these, we generated 298 high-coverage microbial genome assemblies, which we annotated for open reading frames and phylogenetic placement. These genomes increase the gene catalog and phylogenetic breadth of the mouse microbiota, adding 135 novel species with the greatest increase in diversity to the Muribaculaceae and Bacteroidaceae families. This new diversity also improves the read mapping rate, taxonomic classifier performance, and gene detection rate of mouse stool metagenomes. The novel microbial functions revealed through our single-cell genomes highlight previously invisible pathways that may be important for life in the murine gastrointestinal tract. 
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